Is Phoenix, Arizona a City?

Phoenix is the capital of the Southwest of the United States and is known for its year-round sunshine and warm temperatures. It anchors an extensive multi-urban metropolitan area known as the Valley of the Sun, which is renowned for its high-end spa resorts, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, and vibrant nightclubs. Other highlights include the Desert Botanical Garden, where cacti and numerous native plants are displayed. Today, the city covers more than 500 square miles and has a population of more than 1.4 million, ranking sixth in the country.

While Phoenix is the corporate and industrial center of the Southwest, it hasn't forgotten its past. It has maintained its long-standing reputation for the kindness and concern of its citizens for each other and for its government. People can know Phoenix for its year-round sunshine, the beauty of the desert, and world-class resorts and golf, but as the fifth largest city in the United States, it has much more to offer. With its wide tree-lined avenues, Spanish-style architecture, and surrounding mountains, Phoenix looks a lot like Los Angeles.

Like its California counterpart, Phoenix is a metropolis with not one but many centers, all at considerable distances from each other. From its historic heart to the west of Sky Harbor International Airport, the large metropolitan area of which Phoenix is only a small part has grown to encompass a vast expanse of land that extends almost from the Gila River in the south to the high plateaus and volcanic mountains of the north and east and into the wide desert valley to the west. Growth is a constant in Phoenix's life, with thousands of new residents and millions of visitors arriving there every year. Phoenix is located near the confluence of the Gila and Salt rivers and is located at the northern end of the Sonoran Desert, an arid ecological zone whose characteristic plant is the nationally protected saguaro cactus.

East of Phoenix are the rugged Superstition Mountains, a large volcanic caldera complex that formed about 305 million years ago; these mountains reach about 900 meters at their highest point. The Mazatzal Mountains rise to the northeast; the Verde River flows west of these mountains, entering the Salado River east of Phoenix. The wide valley in which Phoenix is located extends west to the Colorado River and south to the mountain ranges north of Tucson, although Phoenix's geographical boundaries are a long way from those natural barriers. The Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as Valley of the Sun, is located at an altitude of 1,100 feet (335 meters) above sea level.

The north and east ends of this valley rise to the surrounding volcanic peaks; the rest is flat terrain dotted with small volcanic mountains made up of granite and shale. Camelback Mountain, Squaw Peak and South Mountain are some of these urban peaks that reach elevations of approximately 2,600 to 2,700 feet (790 to 820 meters). Desert soil is alkaline and water from local rivers and wells is saline and contains other minerals. Many irrigated areas in Phoenix are embedded with dry mineral deposits that build up over time and reduce soil productivity.

Despite being located in one of North America's driest regions, water is strangely abundant in Phoenix due to an underground sedimentary basin that can contain large amounts of groundwater. However, these reserves have been substantially depleted over time and Phoenix has become increasingly dependent on Colorado River water through Central Arizona Project (CAP), a 336-mile (541 km) long artificial waterway that extends from Lake Havasu on California's border to Tucson. In addition, water from underground reservoirs is channeled into Valley from peripheral areas. In past times virtually all water was used for agricultural purposes but an increasing proportion is now being used for municipal use.

Phoenix has a dry and warm climate that attracts tens of thousands of visitors during winter months when average daily high temperatures reach close to 70°F (21°C). Summers tend to be hot with highs reaching over 100°F (38°C). It's almost always sunny all year round with rainfall averaging less than 8 inches (200 mm) per year divided almost evenly between winter and summer months. During summer monsoon season much precipitation returns to atmosphere almost immediately through evaporation or transpiration due to none of surrounding mountains reaching an elevation high enough to attract moisture.

In mid-1970s a plan was proposed to develop wastelands through “landfill construction” program taking advantage of infrastructure already in place but city pursued policy of annexing surrounding communities instead expanding outward to accommodate growing population. Valley Metro public light rail system stops just outside Chase Field downtown stadium home to MLB Arizona Diamondbacks making it easier for people to move around city center where they can book tickets for performances at Symphony Hall or Arizona Opera House among many other performance venues available in city center.

Amelia Thorns
Amelia Thorns

Evil music geek. Pop culture guru. Proud zombie evangelist. Extreme twitter maven. Proud social media lover. Award-winning pop culture lover.

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